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Using Stimulus to Innovate (Pt. 2 of 2)

April 10, 2019

In part one of this two-part series, we explored how we can use stimulus mining to support innovation. We learned that there are really six types of stimulus we can use as inspiration to help us generate winning ideas.

  1. Insight Mining – The voice of the customer
  2. Market Mining – What the competition is doing
  3. Wisdom Mining – Academic research
  4. Patent Mining – Looking at patents
  5. Future Mining – Anticipating the future
  6. Unrelated Mining – Looking for cool/interesting stuff

Let’s say we’ve done our stimulus mining and we’ve generated some great ideas. Are we done with leveraging stimulus? Absolutely not!

Imagine that as you work on making your idea real, you need to reformat some technical documents to make it easier for users to find critical information. What should that new format be? Here’s where we can look for stimulus to help.

  1. Insight Mining – We can talk to users to learn how they currently use the documents and what a more ‘intuitive’ format may be.
  2. Market Mining – We can approach others in our industry to see if they would be open to sharing examples of their formats.
  3. Wisdom Mining – We can look for technical writing best practices used across other industries (ex. Standard Operating Procedures, etc.)
  4. Unrelated Mining – We can look at things that aren’t related to technical documentation to see how that sparks ideas.

In a recent project, we applied stimulus mining in this way to create three potential new document formats. One based on adjustments made from user insights, one based on Lean best practice, and the other based on the concept of a recipe. Now what?

Well, we applied another research tool called Rapid Testing to run three paired comparison tests. We sent out 300 surveys to document users asking their feedback on two of the three formats (forced comparison). In 24 hours, we had 118 responses. That feedback led the team to identifying a base format on which these documents could be built.

What this tells us is that stimulus mining is not only helpful for idea generation, but for building on our ideas so we can test options with customers and stakeholders to maximize our impact. The next time you are feeling stuck, take 30 minutes to do some stimulus mining – you never know what you might find! For some tips and tricks to help you with stimulus mining, check out our cheat sheet here!

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